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Zen/Theravada Harmony

RichardHRichardH Veteran
edited June 2010 in Sanghas
This May and June has been a period of strong practice with both the “Thai Forest” and Son (Zen) Sanghas that I belong to. Over the years there has been, on and off, some serious internal dissonance between the two traditions in both mind and heart. This has been decreasing in the last few months and was finally put to rest with a clear and pointed discussion at (Zen) group practice this evening that mirrored perfectly recent experiences with “Thai Forest” friends. The teachings have come together seamlessly in practice and the forms compliment each other, the dissonance is gone.


There was an moment during Ajahn Sumedho's visit to this area over the last few weeks when, addressing both monastics and lay people, he talked about doggedly remaining in basic awareness, and then he called it “Buddha Nature”. I almost fell off my chair. After he said this he paused and chuckled saying "That could start philosophical controversy for some” He just didn't care, and it pointed to the rigidity of my own concerns for “pure” teaching. It is more important to have skillful teaching, and skillful teaching can come from many places, in many forms.


Anyway, just sharing a Kumbaya moment. Needless to say this is just one persons view. Others may have a very different take on Zen, Theravada, which is fine.

Comments

  • aMattaMatt Veteran
    edited June 2010
    Nice, Richard, glad things are coming into union. I've always found it odd when folks of one tradition expend energy conceptually repelling another. Seems counter-intuitive to me, but what do I know... people will always do what they do. :)
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited June 2010
    I find it interesting that Ajahn Sumedho practices and teaches Zen meditation. He just calls it a different name.
  • RichardHRichardH Veteran
    edited June 2010
    seeker242 wrote: »
    Ajahn Sumedho practices and teaches Zen meditation. He just calls it a different name.
    Must you collapse "Thai Forest" into Zen to square that? Zen and Theravada both teach effective Dharma. Monastics in the Thai Forest Tradition are more open, frankly, at employing a wide range of skillful means than Zen teachers IME, and are less inclined to sectarian nonsense. They are a class act. It is not uncommon to spot Kwan Um students online by the way they parrot Sueng Sahn's ESL idiosyncrasies. There are a wide range of means and forms of meditation that are common to all schools, with some emphasizing one more than another, There is also much variety within each major stream. The Zen precept name given me is "Kojip", it means "Four Noble truths". Does that mean the preceptor was teaching Theravada?
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited June 2010
    Must you collapse "Thai Forest" into Zen to square that?

    I don't think anything needs to be collapsed or expanded into anything else, etc. Because what Ajahn Sumedho calls "The Sound of Silence" meditation, Zen practitioners call it "Shikantaza". But upon looking at what both practices are, they are really the same practice just being called different names. This is an interesting interview. http://www.dhammaweb.net/interview/view.php?id=1 When I read it I think to myself "This is the Zen practice of Shikantaza that this Theravada monk talking about."

    Whether or not it is Theravada or Zen I think is a moot point. They both seem to be the same thing to me. Upon reading this http://amaravati.org/abm/english/documents/the_way_it_is/index.html I think this could have easily been written by a Zen Master as well. I read it and I think "Well, that is what the Zen masters say too." Even though the person saying it is a Theravada monk.
  • RichardHRichardH Veteran
    edited June 2010
    Agree very much. Sorry to misunderstand. I thought you were saying he was appropriating practice from another tradition instead of teaching a basic meditation common to all. "Buddha Mind" was a cheeky appropriation, and it was nice to hear because some Theravadins can get pretty hard core.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited June 2010
    I meditated with a Kwan Um bodhisattva and his group in Gainesville, Florida. It was a good experience.
  • RichardHRichardH Veteran
    edited June 2010
    Jeffrey wrote: »
    I meditated with a Kwan Um bodhisattva and his group in Gainesville, Florida. It was a good experience.
    Kwan Um is my current Zen Sangha, a bit insular on some counts, but they are really solid people. Like every tradition it has its warpfield.

    .....Bodhisattva? He didn't refer to himself like that did he?
  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited June 2010
    If I am not mistaken the previous abbot of City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, The Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, donated the land for the Abhayagiri Monastery.

    I remember Aj Sumedho mentioned that the late Ven Master told him that they shared a karmic bond.
    Efforts to establish the California monastery moved slowly until 1995. As Ven. Master Hsüan Hua, abbot of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, located in Ukiah, California, approached his death, he instructed his disciples to deed over to Ajahn Chah's disciples 120 acres of forest in Redwood Valley, fifteen miles north of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. On several occasions Master Hua had made a point of stating that it had been the dream of his life to bring the northern and southern traditions of Buddhism back together again. His offering was one of openhearted, ecumenical friendship. It enabled the communities to be physically close and to relate in an atmosphere of mutual respect and harmony.

    A Short History of Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery
  • Floating_AbuFloating_Abu Veteran
    edited June 2010
    Richard H wrote: »
    This May and June has been a period of strong practice with both the “Thai Forest” and Son (Zen) Sanghas that I belong to. Over the years there has been, on and off, some serious internal dissonance between the two traditions in both mind and heart. This has been decreasing in the last few months and was finally put to rest with a clear and pointed discussion at (Zen) group practice this evening that mirrored perfectly recent experiences with “Thai Forest” friends. The teachings have come together seamlessly in practice and the forms compliment each other, the dissonance is gone.


    There was an moment during Ajahn Sumedho's visit to this area over the last few weeks when, addressing both monastics and lay people, he talked about doggedly remaining in basic awareness, and then he called it “Buddha Nature”. I almost fell off my chair. After he said this he paused and chuckled saying "That could start philosophical controversy for some” He just didn't care, and it pointed to the rigidity of my own concerns for “pure” teaching. It is more important to have skillful teaching, and skillful teaching can come from many places, in many forms.


    Anyway, just sharing a Kumbaya moment. Needless to say this is just one persons view. Others may have a very different take on Zen, Theravada, which is fine.

    Please say hello to Luang Por Sumedho, a wonderful teacher.

    I have never found any dissonance whatsoever in the Thai Forest teachers (Chah, Sumedho, Dune Atulo and the like) and the Rinzai Zen traditions I favor.

    Blessings.

    PS Chithurst etc also have done interfaith with missions of silence in the so called Christian traditions.
  • Floating_AbuFloating_Abu Veteran
    edited June 2010
    seeker242 wrote: »
    I don't think anything needs to be collapsed or expanded into anything else, etc. Because what Ajahn Sumedho calls "The Sound of Silence" meditation, Zen practitioners call it "Shikantaza". But upon looking at what both practices are, they are really the same practice just being called different names.

    :rolleyes:
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